|The Hat Trick: Bruins finish strong||03.16.10 at 10:21 pm ET|
The Bruins apparently now get it.
They understand that the season hinges on every single game, every single shot and every single shift. On Tuesday night, with a 5-2 road win over Carolina in Raleigh, N.C., they showed just 24 hours after a slow start doomed them to a 3-2 loss to New Jersey they can bounce back and finish a season-long trip on a positive note.
And they showed their ultimate focus, while the hockey world is focused on Thursday’s potential “revenge” game against Matt Cooke and the Penguins at TD Garden. It’s a contest that fans have circled and highlighted since Marc Savard was lost to an elbow/shoulder from Cooke on March 7.
The Bruins have 74 points and solidified their hold on eighth place in the Eastern Conference. They have two huge home games coming up with the Penguins and then the Rangers at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on national television.
The Bruins wasted no time showing they meant business. We’ll do the same in breaking down a win that gave the Bruins a 3-3-1 road trip.
STARTING FAST, FINISHING STRONG
Dennis Seidenberg set the tempo of the game right out of the chute when his shot from the right point was redirected past Manny Legace by Patrice Bergeron just 23 seconds into the game. Seidenberg’s play was typical of the Bruins defensemen all night as they jumped into the play to jump-start the offense.
The starting fast theme continued two periods later when goalie Tuukka Rask stopped Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal in the opening 30 seconds of the third as the Hurricanes were trying to convert a power play to tie the game. Instead, the Bruins came back with a rush of their own and capped it when Mark Recchi scored 45 seconds into the final period.
The Bruins twice had two-goal leads, at 2-0 and 3-1, and both times, Carolina cut it to one. But on this night, the Bruins found the finishing kick.
Michael Ryder took advantage of a horrendous turnover by the Canes and ripped off a one-timer that made it 4-2. David Krejci’s spin-o-rama job with 7:33 remaining put the game on ice and allowed the Bruins to finally look ahead to their grudge match with Cooke and the Penguins on Thursday at the Garden.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
The Bruins had five different goal-scorers on Tuesday night. Starting with Bergeron, and continuing with Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder and David Krejci, the Bruins spread it around on Tuesday. What was evident was that every line was skating hard. That, combined with the defensemen jumping into the play made for a formidable and productive combination.
Yes, the Bruins were again out to lunch on the power play, going 0-for-4. But that was offset by their five-on-five scoring chances.
FINGERS CROSSED FOR BERGY
With just under three minutes remaining in a game that was going entirely the way of the Bruins, they had a reminder of just how frustrating this season has been. Mark Stuart picked up a loose puck at the left point, just inside Carolina’s blue line, and rifled a shot toward the net. Patrice Bergeron, as he did on the game’s first goal, got in front of Legace to run interference. But unlike Seidenberg’s well-placed drive, Stuart’s blast elevated quickly and caught Bergeron on the inside of his right knee.
Fortunately, x-rays following the game on Bergeron’s leg were negative but the shot was sure to have left a mark just the way Bergeron has on the Bruins offense all season. Bergeron, as head coach Claude Julien has pointed out all season, has been the single-most consistent player on the roster and they can ill-afford to lose him and Savard coming down the stretch.
|Bruins cap trip with 5-2 win over Canes||at 8:29 pm ET|
Michael Ryder and Patrice Bergeron each scored their 16th goals of the season and Mark Recchi moved into a tie for 22nd on the NHL’s all-time goal scoring list with his 560th career goal as the Bruins ended their season-long seven-game road trip with a 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh on Tuesday night.
Bergeron had to be helped from the ice with just under three minutes left after taking a Mark Stuart slap shot to the inside of the right knee.
The Bruins ended their trip seven-game road trip with a 3-3-1 record, seven out of a possible 14 points and now have 74 points, and still in the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference.
Patrice Bergeron: Before taking a shot to his right leg late in the third period, Bergeron was all over the ice offensively, setting the tempo from the first period on.
Tuukka Rask: The Bruins goalie, after turning away all 16 shots in the final 40 minutes on Monday in New Jersey, came up big when he had to. He turned away Jokinen and Eric Staal in the first 30 seconds of the third period on back-to-back chances, setting the stage for Mark Recchi to tie Guy Lafleur for 22nd on the all-time goal list with 560.
Johnny Boychuk: His end-to-end rush in the second period highlighted a great night for the Bruins defense. He, Matt Hunwick and Dennis Seidenberg anchored a good two-way performance by Bruins blueliners for 60 minutes.
Turning point: Mark Recchi’s historic goal. The Hurricanes began the third period with a power play. Tuukka Rask came up with a big save in the first 30 seconds and then just 45 seconds into the final period, Recchi talHilied his 15th of the season – and 560th career – to put Boston up, 3-1.
Key play: Game was over when Michael Ryder capitalized on a horrendous Carolina turnover in their own zone, intercepting a pass just inside the blue line and firing his 16th pass Manny Legace for a 4-2 lead.
|Second period summary: Bruins-Hurricanes||at 7:47 pm ET|
The two teams exchanged goals in the second period as the Bruins take a 2-1 lead over the Hurricanes after 40 minutes.
Boychuk hustled nicely in an end-to-end rush and was rewarded when Hunwick found Boychuk rushing up the right side. Boychuk scored his fourth of the season to make it 2-0.
The Hurricanes used the power play to get back into the game when Eric Cole picked up a rebound to the left of Rask and his put back made it 2-1. The Bruins hold a 32-16 advantage on face-offs and are outshooting Carolina 26-20 but again the alarming stat is Boston’s 0-for-4 on the power play.
|First period summary: Bruins-Hurricanes||at 6:45 pm ET|
The Bruins couldn’t have scripted a better start to what could be considered a key – if not critical – conclusion to their season-long seven game road trip. And they took advantage of the early momentum to take a 1-0 lead after one.
Bruins outshot the Hurricanes, 18-7, in exerting their dominance.
The biggest concern, however, continues to be taking advantage of their momentum to build onto a lead, particularly on the power play as the Bruins couldn’t convert on a 5-on-3 power play and a more conventional 5-on-4 advantage.
Since their best playmaker Marc Savard went down with a concussion, the Bruins have scored just once in 11 tries on the power play and haven’t scored in their last nine tries.
|Thornton on D&C: No one should ‘push us around’||03.10.10 at 9:40 am ET|
UPDATED AT 1:30 WITH MORE FROM INTERVIEW
Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning (listen to the interview here) to talk about the Marc Savard situation and explain why none of his teammates responded when the center was felled by a hit to the head from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke on Sunday.
Asked why no one had Savard’s back after he got knocked cold, Thornton said: “That’s a great question. I think when the incident happened, I don’t think a lot of people knew it happened, because it happened late, and I think everyone was focused on the puck. That being said, though, when you see your star player on the ice, the response I feel should be immediate by somebody that’s on the ice.” Added Thornton: “I don’t want to take anything away from my teammates or bad-mouth anyone at all, [but] I’m pretty positive if I was on the ice something different might have happened, though.”
Thornton said he was on the bench and did not see the hit when it happened as it was behind the play. “I think the hit was a couple of seconds late — that probably being the dirtiest part of it,” Thornton said. “I was focused on the puck, also. But I did see Savvy laying there, and I wasn’t very happy about it.”
Thornton explained why no one went after Cooke later in the game. “That happened with about 5:30 to go in the game, I think. [Cooke] had one more shift. The rules being the way they are nowadays, it’s tough to go and rectify a situation with under five minutes. I think it’s a $10,000 fine for the team and a $5,000 fine for the coach and then a suspension or a fine for the player, too. So, it’s tough to do it at that point of the game, especially when it’s 2-1 and you’re trying to win, too. But I agree, something should have happened. When someone turned around and saw Savvy laying there, I think it should have been addressed, too.”
Added Thornton: “I know guys that were on the ice were very upset after the game. We have a good bunch of guys here. Everything happened in a split-second. You’ve got to realize the refs get in there really quick sometimes. I’d have to see the replay to really know the exact details of it. When you see a teammate laying there, we care about each other, and I’m sure it might have been a little bit different [in retrospect].”
Thornton warned not to expect someone to jump Cooke if the Penguins forward is on the ice when the teams meet again March 18 at TD Garden. “There’s not much you can do, the way the league is,” Thornton said. “You wait and see what [league disciplinarian Colin Campbell] does with the decision, I suppose, and that’s about all you can do. The way the game is, it’s not like it was 10, 20 years ago, where you could just go put five guys out on the ice the next time he comes into town and beat the snot out of him, because you’ll end up getting a bigger suspension than he did for hitting him. The game’s changed a bit that way. Do I agree with it? No, I’m kind of old school. I’m more an eye-for-an-eye guy on the ice. That’s the way it is nowadays. So, I guess you just come back and play and put it in the back of your mind. I don’t know. You take care of it when you can. But I doubt it will be a retaliation right away like people expect, because you just can’t get away with that anymore, unfortunately.”
Thornton also noted that Cooke isn’t likely to accept an invitation to fight. “He has a track record of doing things and then not backing them up,” Thornton said. “So, I think it’s a little easier said than done. I would have no problem grabbing him and defending my teammate, but I think he would just fall to the ground and the refs would get in there and nothing would get accomplished anyways.”
Asked about comments from Mike Milbury on Tuesday’s Dale & Holley show that the Bruins are soft, Thornton was caught off guard. “I id not hear that. I don’t know what to say, because I just heard it two seconds ago. I don’t agree with him, obviously. I think that when we have everyone healthy and everyone in the lineup I think we’re probably one of the toughest teams in the league,” he said.
Thornton also didn’t agree with critical comments from Don Cherry after Milan Lucic had his nose broken in a fight with Toronto’s Colton Orr last week. Cherry implied that Lucic wanted the refs to bail him out. “I wasn’t a big fan of that [analysis],” Thornton said. “I thought it was a good fight. They both let go of each other and I thought the refs did a good job of getting in there at the right time. I watched the fight over to see … what he was getting at, and I honestly didn’t see it.”
Asked if the B’s lack of response should send any kind of message to the rest of the league, Thornton replied: “It better not. I’ll go on the record and say that nobody should be coming into our building trying to push us around. I don’t have [any] time for that.”
Thornton responded to an audio clip of NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell saying Matt Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard appeared to be legal, meaning that Cooke likely will be in the lineup when Pittsburgh comes to TD Garden on March 18th.
“Well, I thought he would be anyway,” Thornton said. “It was very similar to the [Mike] Richards hit on [David] Booth and I know Richards didn’t have the priors that Matt Cooke did. I know that the decision is going to come down today, but I assumed he wasn’t going to be getting the 20-game suspension that would put him out of their lineup for the rest of the year anyway.
When asked about what such a reaction means for the league, particularly since general managers are meeting and discussing hits to the head, Thornton said that he sees them trying to change the game. “I guess they are trying to turn the page on the way the game used to be,” he said. “I understand it; it’s tough. I guess his elbow didn’t come up ‘ I thought it was a little bit late personally ‘ but if it is a shoulder to the head, there technically isn’t a rule for that now. I guess that is what they are discussing and they should be.
“But at the end of the day I think it has to come down to the players in the league,” he added. “I’m a big believer in finishing your check and playing as hard as you can, but going out with the intent to injure someone, I think that says something about us internally. Yeah, we are on different teams, but when you think about it, there are 800-something guys in this league and we are supposed to all be on the same page. Trying to go out and hurt guys for the sake of hurting them, I don’t agree with that.”
Thornton was also asked if he thinks that coach Claude Julien might tell his players to leave Cooke alone when the two teams meet. He said that he is “going to assume nothing is said. I won’t know until we get closer, obviously, but I think nowadays when you are at this level, you are supposed to know what to do and you don’t need to be told what to do or you would probably be back in the minors, where I was for the first 600 games.”
The issue of the Bruins’ lack of response to the play has been a hot topic, but Thornton said he does not believe that it will cause problems in the locker room upon Savard’s return. “I think that is a little overstated. Everyone here has the best intentions, and sometimes things happen quickly and you can’t change it,” he said. “There is no point in dwelling on it, and Savvy is not that type of guy. He knows we are all in this together and he is a great guy, so I don’t think there is any tension at all in this locker room.”
Thornton was asked about whether he thought about trying to get revenge in Tuesday night’s game on the Maple Leaf’s Colton Orr for the broken nose he gave Milan Lucic. Thornton said the thought had crossed his mind.
“[Orr] is their tough guy and I’m ours,” he said. “That being said though, Lucic is 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds and can handle himself with the best of them. It crossed my mind, but at the end of the day I didn’t think it was necessary. I think Looch challenged him or he challenged Looch and at the end of the day I thought it was a great fight. Looch got a busted nose out of it, but if you had to exact revenge every time someone got a busted nose there would be a fight every game. I’ve had mine busted a few times, too. So it was a good fight ‘ two tough guys going at it ‘ so I had no problem with that.
|The Hat Trick: Should B’s stick with Tim?||03.06.10 at 6:31 pm ET|
The Bruins came out flying against the Islanders Saturday at Nassau Coliseum, and though they ended up beating the East’s third-worst team by just one goal, Claude Julien will take it. Considering the team has won six of their last seven, yet at 69 points could be two losses (and two Rangers/Canadiens wins) away from going from seventh to out of the playoffs, he’ll take anything he can get.
The 3-2 win wasn’t necessarily pretty, and, as evidenced by Marc Savard‘s disgustingly lucky second-period goal and Michael Ryder‘s game misconduct, neither was the scoring sheet. Still, on a day where the Islanders swarmed Tim Thomas for the final two periods but still couldn’t break the Bruins’ impressive penalty kill, there was enough good to go around in the Bruins win.
There was plenty to take away from a win that the team will need to build upon if they want any chance at defeating Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Sunday. For starters, the dynamic between Miroslav Satan and David Krejci truly is a beautiful thing to watch. After his second period goal Krejci told NESN that the two Europeans complement each other so well because the similarities in their style of play lead to a predictability as to what the other will do. They certainly kept if from Dwaye Roloson well.
Also, the Bruins continued to show their nack for scoring the first goal. Milan Lucic‘s goal at 18:26 of the first, his sixth of the season, marked the ninth time in the Bruins’ last 10 games that they scored the game’s first goal.
Here are the other intriguing storylines that stemmed from the victory:
WHO’S IN NET?
Two days after leading the Bruins to a shootout victory against the Maple Leafs, Tim Thomas made 37 saves to secure the victory in Saturday’s matinee. All of this, of course, has taken place while Tuukka Rask has been nursing a knee injury.
So how quick should Claude Julien be to dust off the Vezina and give most of the remaining starts to Thomas? After all, with the Bruins having won six of their last seven, Rask was between the pipes for the first four (and perhaps the only real difficult opponent in Buffalo).
The statistical edge would go to the 22-year old Rask, who has just eight losses on the season and has the lower GAA (a league-best 2.14) and save percentage (.926). He’s also lost just eight games to Thomas’ 15, though that will happen when you play around 400 minutes less than the other guy.
Still, even with the numbers leaning in the Rask’s favor, the last time the Bruins went into the playoffs riding the regular-season success of a young goaltender, they failed to escape the first round behind Calder Trophy-winning Andrew Raycroft.
Whoever the Bruins, who with 162 goals against have given up the third-least amount of goals in the East, elect to go with as their No. 1 goaltender, time is running out to settle on who the man will potentially be come the playoffs. In order for the Bruins to avoid the fate of the Flyers with Hextall/Snow, Wild with Fernandez/Roloson, and other teams whose goaltending carousel failed their playoff expectations, Julien needs to make up his mind.
SAVARD’S SCORING TOUCH IS BACK, KIND OF
It had been 18 games since Marc Savard had scored for the Bruins, and he used an oddity of Nassau Coliseum to his advantage to finally do so on Saturday. A goal’s a goal any way you slice it, and nobody said they have to be pretty. And if what happened Saturday will help him make up for missed time with a little more scoring, that’s just fine.
A missed slapshot from Patrice Bergeron while the Bruins were on the power play in the second period seemed harmless enough to Islanders goaltender and Rick-Depietro-replacement-of-the-year Dwane Roloson, but the funny bounce it took off of the glass to the right of the Islanders net helped it squirt back in front to Savard, who seemed to be the only one on the ice still following the puck. He used his skate to kick it over to his stick and effortlessly backhanded it into the empty net for his tenth goal of the season.
Again: pretty? Certainly not. Game-winning goal and maybe a momentum-shifter? Sure, why not? The Bruins have had a need for more scoring all season, so who is anyone to turn their nose at any added (albeit ugly) offensive output from their high-profile playmaker?
PENALTY KILL BENDS BUT WON’T BREAK
While the Bruins await word from the NHL regarding whether they will have Michael Ryder in their lineup in future games, the five minutes following his frightening hit from behind on Islanders winger Blake Comeau is what kept the Bruins from losing their grip on against the Islanders on Saturday.
The five-minute major came in a second period during which the Islanders fired 22 shots on Tim Thomas, so the idea of being shorthanded when the Islanders had found more life than they had perhaps in the entire game was certainly not an appetizing thought for the Bruins. Especially with the added bonus that they would open the third period down a man.
Though the Bruins allowed a rare power-play goal to Josh Bailey at 2:18 earlier in the period, it was what they did on the five-minute major that sent the message. With a 2-1 lead Tim Thomas and the Bruins stopped the Islanders and their six shots, reminding Scott Gordon and the rest of the league that though they certainly have their flaws, the Bruins are perhaps at their best when down a man.
The Bruins remain the league’s best penalty-killing team and it clearly gave them an edge in which they were unexpectedly peppered for the second and third periods. With the goaltending starting to take better shape with the improved play of Thomas and the eventual return of Rask, it will be a huge asset should the Bruins secure a playoff spot.
|Bruins top Islanders, 3-2||at 4:55 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins began their seven-game road trip in fine fashion, beating the Islanders, 3-2, at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
Shots came early and often from the Bruins, and by the time the Islanders caught up to (and eventually surpassed) their pace, it was Tim Thomas who proved to be heroic once again for the Bruins.
Marc Savard scored for the first time in 19 games and it wouldn’t have come without some help. After a Patrice Bergeron slapshot from the point missed Dwayne Roloson’s net stickside, the puck took a funny bounce while Roloson was out of position. Savard corraled it and slid it in on the backhand for the powerplay goal. It was the Bruins’ final goal of the game and proved to be the game-winner.
Though the Bruins came out on top and scored two of their three goals after the first period, the balance of the game changed dramatically in the second period. After outscoring the Islanders, 15-4, in the first period, Claude Julien’s club added just 19 more shots the rest of the game while the Islanders had 34 shots in the final two periods.
Things were so lopsided in the first period that it appeared that the Bruins could fall victim of a low-scoring game despite tons of offensive pressure applied. That changed when Milan Lucic scored his sixth of the season from the circle at 18:26. David Krejci added his 12th goal of the season at 14:56 of the second period.
The Bruins needed to put the league’s best penalty kill after a scary moment late in teh second period. With 3:54 remaining Michael Ryder was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting Blake Comeau from behind in the corner. Comeau remained on the ice as Ryder skated to the locker room, and after the Islanders winger returned to his feet the Bruins killed the penalty, which carried over into the third period.
Tim Thomas — Though it appeared the Bruins goaltender could have used an iPod in an uneventful first period, he survived 39 Islanders shots and secured the win by allowing only two past him.
Mark Stuart — The defenseman was a +2 and helped orchestrate the Krejci goal.
Matt Moulson — Were it not for Daniel Seidenberg, Moulson would have had two goals. Still, his third-period tally made it a game again.
Turning point — Ryder’s five-minute major led to an effective penalty right as the Islanders were hitting their stride offensively. Though they were able to get on the board in the third period, the Bruins were able to silence a buzzing Islanders offense when they were pestering Thomas the most they had all game.
Key Play — Savard’s goal in the second period. It proved to mean more than just a tally on the scoreboard when Josh Bailey was stopped by Thomas on a very similar play in the final minute of the second period. The two plays gave evidence to the fact that on where shots were abundant, the Bruins got the bounces that the Islanders didn’t get.
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